Indies are being forced to introduce promotions earlier than last year due to tough trading conditions and the difficulty of selling winter stock in unseasonally mild weather.
After last year’s bitterly cold weather, indies bought heavily into coats and knitwear for autumn 11. However, many indies have found it difficult to shift this stock owing to autumn’s unseasonably warm weather, prompting widespread promotions on specific categories and selected brands with discounts of up to 40% for limited periods.
Janine O’Keefe, owner of premium womenswear indie O’Keefe in Esher, Surrey, said she is reviewing her promotional strategy daily. O’Keefe said a promotion offering 30% off selected brands including Karen Cole and Boss Orange last week had helped, but if coat sales did not pick up this week she would hold another.
Half of the 38 indies Drapers spoke to have held more promotions than in autumn 10, with several launching a full winter Sale at the beginning of December. Indies said going into Sale early would hit margins.
Gary Lever, co-owner of young fashion indie Duo Menswear in Gourock, near Glasgow, said he would go on Sale in the new year as he did not want to set a precedent. He added: “You don’t want to devalue your own brand.”
Difficult trading conditions are compounding pressure on indies, which are facing a credit crisis due to changes to payment terms caused by the withdrawal of brands’ credit insurance. Drapers and Labour MP Simon Danczuk will solicit evidence over the coming weeks, with the findings published early next year.